Anna talks about leaving teaching to pursue her love of theatre, and her experience as an LSBU student. Anna is now the founder of Waterloo Community Theatre.
The Big Change
After obtaining my PGCE at LSBU, and eight years as a teacher, I left to pursue my first love - theatre. I realised there were no accessible and inclusive drama provisions in the area. I decided to do something about it and set up Waterloo Community Theatre (WCT). At WCT, we create original work with, for and about young people. We make theatre that appeals and is relevant to, young people.
Without a doubt, working creatively with young people is what I enjoy most about my job. I’m passionate about young people being taken seriously, and their opinions being heard and viewed as valid and important.
I currently have a part-time office job but then go straight to the community hall from which we deliver our sessions. During my days ‘off’ from my office job, I spend a lot of time on strategic planning, writing funding bids, updating our website and social media - there’s always something to do! In terms of challenges, well, money is a constant worry. We can’t deliver our services to the high standard we’d like without adequate funding. With all the recent cuts to youth services, it’s increasingly difficult for small grass-roots organisations like us.
Above all else, what keeps me motivated is the energy from the young people and the genuine love of what I do.
To me, career satisfaction is the feeling of doing something good for the world, something worthwhile. I find satisfaction in creating art with young people and seeing them develop confidence and skills. It’s not about money for me, even though it’s nice to get paid of course!
Giving back is certainly part of what we do. As theatre practitioners with years of experience, I think it’s our duty to provide opportunities for others to learn. We welcome volunteers who are starting out and need experience in drama facilitation.
Partnership with LSBU
We have just embarked on a new partnership with LSBU to provide placements to students on the BA Applied Theatre programme. It’s still new, so we have not yet had any students from LSBU joining us. However, we have had many from schools in central London, and it’s fantastic to see students develop their skills and take on more and more responsibility as they gain confidence. In fact, two placement students have recently become paid members of staff! When you spot someone good you really want to hold on to them.
The most influential relationships in my life are my family. My parents have always supported my crazy ideas and allowed me to go my own way in life. My boyfriend of 15 years and daughter keep me grounded – they tell it like it is.
Dealing with stress
I wouldn’t say that stress holds me back. I thrive on being busy and having projects on the go, but this can also sometimes be overwhelming. I don’t enjoy relaxing baths or the common ‘de-stressers’ people would normally suggest. I just get restless. Me-time and a good crossword or jigsaw puzzle usually do the trick for me. Something that keeps the mind active.
I doubt myself all the time. Doesn’t everyone?! I often think I’m not good enough, experienced enough or skilled enough, but I think that’s part of being human.
My advice to you
For current LSBU students, my advice to you is use your time wisely. Get as much as possible out of the university experience and build up your network, which will help when you leave.
It’s been ten years now since I graduated. I became good friends with a couple of students from my course, and although we are all busy and live in different parts of London, we meet up at least once a year to reminisce about our time at LSBU.
Life at LSBU
Life for me at LSBU was quite hard sometimes. I was a full-time student, but also a parent (my daughter is now 16 but was young then). To juggle everything was sometimes difficult. Living locally certainly helped, and being an LSBU alumna means having access to a great network of people who have supported me along the way.